The government of Iraq has committed $30 million to projects this year that will assist children in rural areas of the Marshlands region, an area with some of the worst development indicators in the country. The allocation marks the first government investment focused exclusively on improving the lives of Iraqi children.
“This is a major achievement by the government as it’s the first-of-its-kind investment targeting children not only in Iraq but also globally,” stated Sikander Khan, UNICEF Iraq Representative. “This sets the standard and will be the beginning of a series of child-friendly investments that will help realize the long-deprived rights of all Iraqi children, specifically improving their prospects for survival and to fully develop their capacities.”
Some 34 percent of women in the Marshlands are illiterate, compared with 24 percent at the national level, and school enrollment in rural areas of the region is at least 30 percent lower than in urban areas. Around 81 percent of households are not connected to the general water network, compared with 26 percent at the national level with, in some villages, up to 99 percent of people relying on drinking water to be delivered by truck.
“The current situation of children in the Marshlands is unacceptable,” said Minister of State for Marshlands Affairs Hassan Al-Sari. “With this investment we will start improving the welfare of children in the area so that many more are able to go to school and thousands of people will have access to clean water”.
Part of the Marshland’s Children’s Initiative, this new government investment will support projects in the most impoverished rural areas of the Marshlands where children are most vulnerable. In rural areas of the Marshlands districts in the Basra, Misan and Thiqar governorates, 70 water stations will be rehabilitated to provide clean drinking water to around 250,000 people, including around 125,000 children who are particularly vulnerable to water-borne diseases.
In addition, 48 schools will be built to provide access to education for around 12,000 children.
UNICEF will support the Government of Iraq in developing and implementing the projects to ensure they are of the highest standard and will have the greatest impact for children. The projects are expected to start in the coming months.